THE ASSESSMENT OF THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CULTURAL TOURISM TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Background of the study
Tourism is a rapidly growing phenomenon and has become one of the largest industries in the world. The impact of tourism varies extremely. On one hand, it plays an important and certainly positive role in the socioeconomic and political development in destination countries by, for instance, offering new employment opportunities. Also, in certain instances, it may contribute to a broader cultural and understanding by creating awareness, respecting the diversity of cultures and ways of life. On the other hand, it is a tool to create jobs (Idanre Ecotourism Masterplan). Tourism has been a major driver of socio-economic development in Western society; it is an alternative strategy for sustainability and diversification of economy for important policy of a good government. There are many western nations such as U.S.A, United Kingdom, Canada that have utilized the benefit of tourism to sustain their economy. However, over the years, tourism sector has been experiencing disdain in Nigeria.
The Nigeria economy solely relies on crude oil with total neglect of other sectors such as tourism and agriculture which are the mainstay of a good economy. Over– concentration on oil sector has a great implication for the survival of Nigerian economy. The nonchalant attitude of government towards the development of the tourism sector has been major challenge facing the sector in Nigeria. Mass tourism in and from industrialized countries is a product of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Since then a number of interrelated developments in the world economy, such as overall economic growth and various other socio-economic changes, government policies, technological revolution, changes in production processes and new management practices have converted part of the industry from mass tourism to so-called “new tourism”.
The latter connotes the idea of responsible, green, soft, alternative and sustainable tourism, and basically refers to the diversification of the tourism industry and its development in targeted, niche markets. Competition in the new tourism is increasingly based on diversification, market segmentation and diagonal integration (BGL Research and Intelligence). In recent times, tourism is one of the largest industries that has contributed to the socio-economic growth of many countries especially countries where tourism is the mainstay of her economy, World Tourism Organization (WTO, 1998; cited in Eja et al., 2012). Despite the fact that that industry is a vehicle for promoting cultural exchange that enhances international understanding and goodwill among the diverse peoples of the world, it is also a catalyst for enhancing many country destination employment opportunities, foreign exchange and infrastructural facilities (ESCAP, 2002; cited in Eja et al., 2012). The development of tourism as a critical sector of the economy has gradually assumed a centre stage in the economic agenda of most nations of the world. In the past few decades, international attention on tourism as a critical sector of the economy has greatly increased.
This is in view of its capacity to quickly stimulate income growth, generate foreign exchange and contribute to domestic earnings of government through fees and taxes (Vanguard Newspaper, June 24, 2011). The interest in tourism by the Nigeria’s government started way back in the 1960s with the Obasanjo’s regime in 1976 establishing the Nigeria Tourism Board (NTB) now Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) via Decree No. 54 of 1976 reviewed to Decree No. 86 of 1991 and giving it a ‘preferred sector’ status respectively. Master Plan on tourism development in Nigeria started in 1982 with a tourism development policy first rolled out in 1990. To further consolidate the quest for quality service delivery in the tourism industry, the government created the Federal Ministry of Tourism and Culture to actualize the dream of catching up with the global train in tourism development (Munzali, 2011). Tourism has become a major source of economic diversification for many countries, underpinning the service sector and forging effective backward and forward linkages with the rest of the economy, allowing new employment and income earning opportunities. Although the developed countries account for a higher proportion of global tourism, many developing countries are beginning to take advantage of the huge opportunities offered by tourism. However, only developing countries with effective natural and man-made tourism supporting and enhancing infrastructure have been able to develop their tourism sector and seize the attendant advantages. The need for economic diversification in most developing countries is overwhelming because of their defining mono-cultural economic characteristics where only one or two commodities dominate exports and provide the bulk of foreign exchange from which these countries could reconcile their internal and external balances.
Tourism is one concept that may not really invoke the desired passion and attraction among Nigerians. The reason for this could be the high level of poverty prevalent in a country where the people live from hand to mouth and have little left for other secondary activities like tourism. However, tourism is not an issue that is limited to Nigeria but is a language of the international community where people save money in order to visit places of attractions to fulfill their dreams (Jiboku and Jiboku, 2010). The important roles of the tourism sector as the main instrument in socio-economic development of any nation cannot be overemphasized. Although some of the tourist centres in Nigeria are not well developed to promote socio-economic development, the only way to realize the important roles of tourism is through a well developed, packaged and promoted tourist attraction (Tunde, 2012). The Nigerian Government is increasingly recognizing the need to develop this industry especially now that the country is trying to diversify her economy. The present government has called for the promotion and exploitation of other sectors that could contribute to economic development and tourism has been recognized as a high profile among them. Apart from petroleum and agriculture, tourism is another sector that could help in turning the Nigerian economy around (Dalat, 2010). Nigeria is a country richly endowed with a wide range of natural and cultural resources relative to other nations in Africa and on global level most of which are largely untapped. These resources fall into protected ecosystems (game reserves and recreational parks), protected landscapes or natural sceneries, cultural sites, coastline, traditional festivals and historic relics and monuments (Ekechukwu, 1990; Okoli, 2001 cited in Enemou et al., 2012).
Statement of the problem
Undoubtedly, tourism and the hospitality industry can be said to be a basic revenue generator for the operators in the business and the country in which they operate. Nigeria as a country is no exception. Although the tourism industry in Nigeria cannot be said to be fully developed, it is still in its developing stage. Meanwhile, since its independence in 1960, Nigeria as a country has been dependent on the oil sector. So, the tourism sector has been neglected, until recently when the new democratic government identified tourism as a strategic venture that can boost the economy of Nigeria as a country (Nigeria hospitality, 2010; cited in Ogbonnikan, 2012). It is against this backdrop that this study explores management of tourism for socio economic-development in Nigeria.
Objectives of the study
1. To ascertain the significance of cultural tourism to sustainable development.
1.4 Research question
1. How significant is cultural tourism to sustainable development?
1.5 Research hypothesis
Ho: Cultural tourism has no significant impact on sustainable development.
Hi: Cultural tourism has significant impact on sustainable development.
1.6 Significance of the study
Nigeria is one such country seeking to diversify its economy away from crude oil production to maximize employment and income generating opportunities. Nigeria has huge tourism potentials, especially given its natural and diversified landscapes but lacks effective and tourism supporting and enhancing infrastructure. While tourism affords huge employment and income generating opportunities, its impact on bio-physical environment is well acknowledged hence the emphasis on sustainable tourism (Ayeni and Ebohoh, 2012).
1.7 Scope/Limitations of the study
This study on the assessment of the significance of cultural tourism to sustainable development will cover various approaches to the study and its impact on the area of study.
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 Definition of terms
Cultural Tourism: Is the subset of tourism concerned with a country or region’s culture, specifically the lifestyle of the people in those geographical areas, the history of those people, their art, architecture, religion(s), and other elements that helped shape their way of life.
Development:The act of developing or the state of being developed
Sustainable Development: Is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.